Reporters are often cordoned off at events. The idea being to keep them controlled and contained. Any journalist who has been to Washington party Nazi Tammy Haddad‘s garden brunch knows what that’s like — she ropes off reporters in a pen, like zoo animals, before you enter the home. Once inside, everything is supposed to be off the record.
Well, protestors deserve a pen manned by political aides don’t they?
Not according to the New York Press Club, which has issued a stern statement to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for setting up a “Free Speech Zone” for protesters at the boardwalk in Rockaway.
“If this is your idea of free speech as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you are badly mistaken,” wrote Larry Seary, president of the New York Press Club and the perfectly-named Gabe Pressman, president of the New York Press Club Foundation. “…To call an area restricted from access by the public a ‘free speech zone’ makes a mockery of our basic rights. It is outrageous.”
The Mirror contacted Amy Spitalnick (of Buckley Carlson fame) in the Mayor’s communications office for comment. Weirdly she didn’t respond.
See the letter below…
Honorable Bill de Blasio
Office of the Mayor
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Mayor:
During the recent ceremony at the boardwalk in Rockaway, your aides kept protesters holding signs at bay by setting up a so-called “Free Speech Zone” at the base of the boardwalk down a flight of steps, hundreds of feet away from the scene. If this is your idea of free speech as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you are badly mistaken. Free speech, like freedom of the press, are part of the liberties guaranteed to us since the founding of the nation. To call an area restricted from access by the public a “free speech zone” makes a mockery of our basic rights. It is outrageous.
You have promised many times to run an administration that is “transparent.” What happened in Rockaway Beach makes a travesty of that promise.
We demand that you inform your aides that suppression of the press is against the law of the land and the policies of your administration. It violates the basic principles of democracy and of the time-honored tradition of openness at City Hall.
Larry Seary, President
Gabe Pressman, Chair of Freedom of the Press Committee